My family has come to expect me to bake Easter Bread for Easter Sunday. I’ve used this recipe for the past few years and my family really loves it.
A few years ago I was looking for an Easter Bread recipe to remind me of the bread my Grandmother used to make every Easter. Although my Grandmother’s recipe was delicious, we no longer have the recipe and the bread was a little dry and heavy. I searched the internet and I wanted a recipe that produced bread that was moister, lighter and sweeter than the one I remember as a child. I had seen an Easter Bread recipe on the La Lama Mountain Ovens site and modified it to my liking. Although I’ve said before that I usually have more difficulty with yeast recipes, this one went well from the first time I tried it.
I usually double this recipe to make six breads because I give at least four away.
Enjoy the recipe.
After rolling out the dough for one bread.
After braiding the dough.
Form the braid into a circle and pinch ends well.
Transfer into the pan and add colored egg(s).
Yield: 3 breads Cook Time: 30 minutes
- 2 packages dry yeast (1 package yeast = 5 – 1/4 teaspoons; therefore substitute 2 1/2 or 2 1/4 teaspoon jarred yeast)
- 1 cup lukewarm milk
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 or 4 handfuls of white unbleached flour
- 8 cups white unbleached flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 8 large eggs, room temperature
- 4 oz melted butter, cooled (one stick)
- 1/2 cup Rum (possible substitutes whiskey or bourbon)
- 6 dyed Easter eggs (eggs don’t need to be hard boiled as they will cook during baking; be careful not to crack)
- 1 egg yolk, beaten
- 1 tablespoon milk
Step 1: For the starter, add 1 teaspoon sugar to warm milk, then dissolve yeast in the milk. Use your fingers to mix the yeast until it dissolves. Whisk (or stir) in flour by the handful until about the consistency of a thick pancake batter. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for an hour or until bubbly and about double in bulk..
Step 2: While the starter is rising, mix 8 cups flour, 2 cups sugar and 1 teaspoon salt together and put this mixture onto a large wooden table. Make a well in the center large enough to hold all of the starter plus the wet ingredients in the next step. I have a huge platter that I use for this step so if my flour well gives way, I don’t have a mess dripping onto the floor.
Step 3: Beat eggs in electric mixer until light and foamy, add melted butter and rum and just beat to mix. Scrape the starter from step 1 into the well of dry ingredients. Pour egg mixture in slowly while using a fork to start incorporating the flour into the well, making a soft dough. This will take some time and a lot of patience because you do not want to collapse the flour walls while you have a very runny egg mixture in the middle. Once you have a soft dough working, start kneading vigorously using a dough scraper to help it along. The dough will start off being very sticky. Keep adding dustings of flour and kneading until it is soft and velvety, being careful not to add so much flour that it become hard or dry. This kneading will take about 15 min. Place in a large greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to double. It will take 2 or 3 hours.
Step 4: Deflate the dough but do not knead it. Cover again and let rise until double, about 1 1/2 hours.
Step 5: Cut the dough into 3 equal pieces of about 2 lbs each (make large thick loaves – yields softer bread). Cut each piece in half for a total of six pieces and roll each piece into a long log, working from the center out. Rotate working each piece, resting the others. This relaxes the dough and makes it easier to work with. When all are the size you want (2 to 3 feet) to form them into twisted rings to fit the pan, then take two of the rolled logs and twist together to form a braid, pinching ends together well. Place on greased (using cooking spray) sheet pans (I use the disposable aluminum half steam tray pans – the bread turns out better) and insert two dyed eggs per bread between the braids but so they are still visible – I usually place one on each side of the bread for visual appeal. Cover bread with clean towels and let rise overnight. Repeat for the other two breads.
Step 6: Preheat oven to 350. Place all three uncovered breads in the oven. Bake until golden brown for 30 minutes to yield soft moist bread. Rotate the breads 180 degrees and top shelf to bottom shelf for even baking when adding egg wash. After 20 minutes of baking, brush each loaf with a mixture of 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon milk and sprinkle with nonpareils.
Step 7: Cool completely before wrapping. Keep breads well wrapped, so they don’t dry out. You can double wrap and freeze if not eating in the near term.
Recipe adapted from La Lama Mountain Ovens.
Tips: When handling the dough make sure your hands and all the implements you use are well dusted with flour. Use your dough scraper as one “hand” when kneading. You may consider preheating your oven to “low” for 10 minutes and then shut oven off to make a good environment for the various raising stages. This can dramatically shorten the process time from start to finish.
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